Martin’s Hare Curry Over The Campfire

by Martin Tomlinson

Curry and rice in a bowl in the green woods

A delicious curry, cooked over the campfire and served with saffron rice. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

I'll start by saying I wouldn't normally eat hare, as not only are they magnificent animals but their numbers are on the decline in the UK. Nor are they are particularly easy to get your hands on, compared to the ubiquitous rabbit. This recipe, served with saffron rice, works equally well for rabbit.

I'm very fortunate to have a large population of hares on my farm and enjoy seeing them charge around the fields, especially in late winter and early spring when they begin their courtship rituals. A female boxing away a would-be male suitor is a common sight. I've even seen a hare throw a few punches at a rook. As always, at moments like that my camera wasn't with me.

Anyway, a local game keeper had kindly given me a hare and it had been in my freezer waiting for the perfect dish to do it justice. A campfire in the woods seemed the appropriate setting...

Some Preliminary Campcraft

To cook this dish I was going to use a Dutch oven and so required a sturdy pot hanger to suspend it over the fire. A hazel tripod seemed the most suitable solution so off I went in search of this common hedgerow tree.

I needed three sturdy upright poles for the legs and one long length with a fork at the thickest end (close to the base of the tree). The thin end of this long branch, no thicker than your thumb, needs to be twisted to create a withy, which will bind the three legs at the top creating a tripod. The 'tick' end of this length, where the branch forks, will be the hook that the dutch oven hangs from. This needs to the thick enough to support the weight of what you are going to hang from it.

hazel bush

Hazel with side-branch located, providing a sturdy tick-shape. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Twist the length of hazel until you hear that recognisable 'pop' as the fibers separate and allow it to become flexible, once you have a suitable length twisted you can cut the branch off the tree. Doing it the other way around is much trickier, trust me!

making a withy

Turning the top of the hazel shoot into a flexible withy. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Tidy up the hook end before adding it to the tripod. Then create a clove hitch with the withy and place it over the tripod legs, pull tight and arrange the hook end of the hanger to fall between the legs. To adjust the height of the pot, all you need to do is move the legs in or out. Simple and elegant.

Note, the top of the legs is a great place to hang your mug when not in use, you'll always know where it is and it doesn't get full of leaf litter from the woodland floor.

pot hanger

The tick-shaped side branch fashioned into a hook for hanging the pot over the fire. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

tripod and dutch oven

The completed tripod, with the withy being used to bind the legs at the top. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

mug on a tripod

Detail of the top of the tripod. It's a great place to hang your mug and other useful items you need close to hand. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Hare or Rabbit Curry Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder
  • 2 tins of plum tomatoes
  • either 1 hare or 2 rabbits, jointed and de-boned
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt and pepper to season
Martin Tomlinson cooking in the woods

Fire lit and preparing the ingredients for cooking. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Hare or Rabbit Curry - Method

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven and add the cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf, fry for a minute.

Cooking in Dutch oven over fire

Oil heated with added cardamon, cinnamon and bay leaf. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Next, add the onions and garlic and ginger paste, along with a generous pinch of salt and cook until soft.

Cooking in Dutch oven

Add the onions, garlic paste and ginger paste. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Onions in Dutch oven

Stir and soften. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Add all other spices, except the garam masala, and cook for a few minutes until their aromas are released.

Adding spices to food

Adding the curry spice mix (except garam masala). Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Cooking curry in Dutch oven

Stir in well and continue to cook. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Then add tomatoes and rabbit or hare meat along with just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and then cook gently on embers for around 45 minutes to an hour, basically until the meat is tender. Stir it regularly.

Adding tomatoes

The tomatoes come next. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Then the meat. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Hare curry

Already looking good. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Adding water.

Add just enough water... Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Dutch oven and natural tripod with open fire

Then leave to cook over the fire... Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Once the meat is tender add the garam masala and season to taste.

Serve with rice and or a nice naan bread. I cooked up some saffron rice with mine in an additional billy can, manage your fire correctly and you can time it right so that both the curry and rice are ready at the same time.

Two pots over the fire on different pot hangers

A bit of fire management to boil the rice while continuing to cook the curry. Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Hare curry

Ready... smells delicious! Photo: Martin Tomlinson

Curry and rice in wooden bowl in front of Dutch oven, with wooden spoons

A fitting feast in the forest... Photo: Martin Tomlinson

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Martin has been assisting with Frontier Bushcraft courses since 2015. He is a farmer from Rutland and grew up with nature all around him. Martin is a passionate amateur photographer and his camera is never far away, capturing wildlife and the natural world whenever he can. He is also a keen traditional archer and has been shooting the English longbow since he was 16 years old.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rody Klop

This is torture, sitting at work. Reading your blog about being outdoor and cooking a fantastic meal.
You bet I am going to try this curry … Cheers !

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Rody, sorry to torture you so badly haha! I’m sure the anticipation will make the taste even better when you finally taste it though… 🙂

Reply

Craig Taylor

Wunderbar Martin/Paul!!!

Makes me want to give my local farmer a call and re-confirm permission to go rabbiting (probably as close as I’ll get to a hare) on his land to try this out for myself.

Add the acquisition of a dutch oven into the equation and I’m salivating already…

Keep those recipes coming…

Cheers

Craig

Reply

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